EXCLUSIVE FIRST AUSTRALIAN REVIEW: I’ve just tested the Acer Liquid A1 Android smartphone and am really surprised that Acer hasn’t officially released it in Australia yet because for the price (currently $519 at importers Mobicity) it’s the best value Android phone sold in Australia with a big 480x800px WVGA capacitive touchscreen (2.5 times iPhone resolution), 5mp camera, GPS, Wi-Fi and a swift 768 MHz processor.
Comparison to Other Android Phones
- Price – Many people don’t have $700 to $900 to buy a Motorola Droid/Milestone or Google Nexus One so the Acer Liquid A1’s price ($519 at time of writing from Mobicity) puts a very good Android smartphone within the reach of more buyers.
- Speed – noticeably faster than the HTC Magic, Samsung Galaxy and HTC Dream. Slightly slower than the Google Nexus One and Motorola Droid/Milestone when many applications are open at once.
- Buttons & Trackball/DPAD – The buttons for HOME, SEARCH, MENU, BACK are all part of the touchscreen like in the Motorola Droid and Google Nexus One. There’s no button for CALL/HANGUP so you have to do that by touching virtual buttons onscreen. The lack of a Trackball/DPAD may annoy some people because these offer more accurate control than a finger. On the other hand removing the Trackball/DPAD simplifies the front screen design and many people don’t like Trackball/DPAD.
- Software Onscreen Keyboard – like the HTC Magic, Samsung Galaxy and Google Nexus One.
I prefer to use my paid Better Keyboard application because it’s easier to type more accurately than the standard Android software keyboard.
- Screen – big 3.5inch 480 x 800 pixels WVGA capacitive touchscreen (2.5 times iPhone screen resolution). Visual quality is good but not as much as an AMOLED screen. The Liquid’s large screen and rounded smooth design makes it very comfortable to hold the screen sideways in both hands when reading/writing long emails or viewing websites
- Sensors – Accelerometer, Light Sensor, Proximity, Compass
- Connectivity and Storage – 7.2mpbs HSDPA support, WiFi, GPS, 3.5mm headphone jack, standard MicroUSB slot for connecting to computer via USB, microSDHC card support upto 32GB (2GB card supplied),
- Camera – takes photos at 5mp with autofocus and the option of geo-tagging location. Colours and exposure are quite good in daylight but the lack of a flash means its not much use at night.
- Battery Life and Processor – some technically minded readers will wish the processor was 1Ghz rather than 768 MHz but I found the phone was always fast, with no delays even when multitasking.
In addition running the processor at 75% of its ability means the Battery life is better. The Acer Liquid lasted around 10-12 hours of use for calls, SMS, web surfing, twitter/email auto check apps which is better than average for a smartphone with large touchscreen.
My big tip to make sure you get the best battery life on the Acer Liquid A1 is to change these settings and run the “Advanced Task Killer” application twice a day
- Useful Status Icons on top of the phone – for incoming e-mail/SMS, calls. (photo courtesy of Frandroid)
- Android 1.6 – Which is the version Acer Liquid A1 ships with has a lot of features but some people will want the extra new features in Android 2.0/2.1 like voice dictation into any application. According to the French Android news site Frandroid a 2.0 update will be released by Acer in March 2010.
- Availablity – At the moment the only Acer Liquid A1’s sold in Australia are from online store Mobicity which imports the Acer Liquid A1 from UK. While their pricing is good, stock isnt always available for immediate delivery. This means you have to buy the phone outright unlocked as it’s not available on a contract from Telstra/Optus/Vodafone.
When asked whether they were releasing any Android phones in Australia an Acer Australia spokesperson told me : “Acer Australia has not made a decision on the Liquid yet.”
- Unlocking Screen – when the phone is in standby unlocking it requires an unneccessary 2 button presses: first the power button on the left side of the phone then the MENU button on the bottom front of the phone.
Note: thanks to Australian online store Mobicity for lending me the Acer Liquid A1 Android smartphone. At time of writing they had it on sale for $519 including an Australian 12 month warranty.
You can find out more about the Liquid’s features at ACER’s website. If you’re an advanced smartphone user and want to get administrator (root access) to the Acer Liquid so you can upgrade it yourself visit Modaco Forums
Other People’s Reviews of Acer Liquid A1 Android Phone
Similarly to Acer´s latest Windows phones, the Liquid A1 comes with capable hardware that, sadly, is not exactly backed up by elaborate interface personalization, but the difference to Windows Mobile is that Android tends to be more user-friendly barefooted.
Handsets like the HTC Hero and Motorola MILESTONE/DROID are clearly superior in terms of software. Still, if you happen to be on the lookout for a powerful smartphone and interface personalization is not your cup of tea, consider the Acer Liquid A1. It is a good option and you don’t need to break the bank to get one, because its retail price is lower than the amount you have to fork out for one of the afore-mentioned devices
Overall the Acer Liquid is an interesting addition to the Android portfolio. It gets some things really right: the screen is a good size and resolution and responsive enough and the essentials are covered: HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. For those looking for an Android device that hasn’t been tinkered with too much, then this might be worth investigating, but beware what looks like some minor software bugs.
– Pocket Lint